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Commentary - Needlessly frightening seniors

By Jack Seltz, Alexandria, MN

Cynthia Moothart, last Wednesday, your commentary titled "Don't cut Social Security program" appeared in the Alexandria Echo Press.

When I first read the article, it seemed innocent enough, but several things just did not ring true. I reread the article several times to determine just what bothered me. The following is my reaction to the piece.

You started with a rather lengthy discussion regarding the 83-year-old woman and her husband from Vergas who are model citizens and who have experienced some difficulty. Your writings indicate that she has a fear of a cut in her Social Security (SS) because some "lawmakers are eyeing SS in the budget-reduction debate."

I have a problem with this whole example. I follow these things quite closely, and I have not heard of any politician on either side of the aisle mentioning cutting the amount of SS payments.

There have been frequent discussions about slowly raising the age that our citizens start receiving such payments, but that will be gradual and would not affect anyone at or near SS age.

This is a false picture that is clearly intended to needlessly frighten our elderly citizens.

Later in your article you state that SS has and will have adequate or near adequate funding for years to come. You cite the annual trustees' report showing only "mild deterioration" in the program's short and long term outlook."

I looked up the summary of the 2011 Annual Report of the Social Security and Medicare Board of Trustees that you referred to in your article.

That summary mentions numerous times that SS as well as Medicare will run out of funds and they recommend "legislative modification...sooner rather than later to minimize adverse impact on vulnerable populations..."

Nowhere in that trustee summary is the phrase "mild deterioration" that you mentioned. That quote came from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities that was mentioned later in your piece. However, your reference would indicate that it came from the Trustee Report. This seems a bit deceptive on your part.

SS was started 76 years ago. To my knowledge, from the beginning, full pay-out to our citizens commenced at age 65 and this has not changed since then. Since SS was introduced, the average life expectancy of those who reach 65 has increased by more than five years. Does it not make sense to then adjust the threshold age of SS as we keep living longer?

It seems to me that those in leadership positions, who are genuinely concerned, should heed the recommendations of the Board of Trustees that would best meet the needs of the future rather than distort positions to suit other agendas.